If Monsanto Was a Person...
By Alexis Baden-Mayer, Esq.
The following video is from the March 16, 2012, action that shut down a Monsanto research facility in Davis, Calif. In the video, a young boy, Ci Yin Sun Thunder, host of Small World Radio, tells Monsanto's story as if, as the Supreme Court has ruled, Monsanto was actually a person. Check out the video, then read on to learn more about the problem of giving corporations the legal rights of people and what we can do to control corporations like Monsanto.
Thanks to the Supreme Court and Citizens United, big corporations like Monsanto are allowed to spend obscene amounts to drown out our voices in elections and take over our government. They use their clout to block popular, common-sense regulations needed to protect human health and the environment. With corporate money flooding our electoral and legislative system, even minor reforms, like labels on genetically engineered food—a cause supported by more than 90 percent of the voting public—are blocked.
When it comes to elections for public office, the choice between Democrats and Republicans can be very narrow. Neither political party is going to take a stand against genetic engineering or dangerous pesticides, as long as companies like Monsanto ply candidates from both parties with campaign contributions and incessant lobbying.
But, there is one place in this shredded democracy where the one-person-one-vote ideal may still hold sway: in the electoral tools of direct democracy. The use initiatives, referendums, and recalls can launch a ballot box insurgency that begins at the local, municipal and county level, and then moves to the state level and even federal level.
A ballot box insurgency, reinforced by direct action, along with workplace, marketplace and community organizing, will enable our forces to gradually replace most of the nation's indentured politicians with new leaders and public servants who truly represent the people, not the economic royalty. Such an electoral insurgency cannot be sparked by humdrum partisan politics. It requires electoral campaigns that offer real solutions to our current life or death problems, that educate and mobilize grassroots forces, that change the balance of power away from the corporate elite, and return real power to the grassroots.
This year in California, we have a chance to win back our right to know what's in our food from Monsanto by taking the Label GMOs ballot initiative for labels on genetically modified food to the voters in the November 2012 election.
Here are a few inspiring uses of initiatives, referendums and recalls, along with more ways the 99 percent can take our democracy back from the richest 1 percent:
CELDF.org—In 2002, with the help of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, Porter Township, Clarion County, a municipality of 1,500 residents an hour north of Pittsburgh in Northwestern Pennsylvania, became the first local government in the U.S. to eliminate corporate claims to civil and constitutional privileges. Initially used to protect Pennsylvania communities from polluting factory farms and and toxic sewage sludge, localities across the country have used the same strategy to regulate dangerous chemicals, food safety, gas drilling, uranium mining, big box stores, sustainable energy and local water resources. More than 100 communities have adopted Legal Defense Fund-drafted ordinances.
Amend2012.org—Have as many states as possible pass ballot resolutions calling on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment stripping corporations of constitutional rights.
FairVote.org—To be a truly fair, open and equitable democracy, we need to break the stranglehold of the two major parties—and the corporations like Monsanto that control them—and make sure that every vote counts. This can be achieved through reforms like Choice Voting, a National Popular Vote for President, Instant Runoff Voting, a Constitutional Right to Vote and Universal Voter Registration.
OccupyTogether.org—The Occupy Movement is changing—and saving—the world. Through the astonishing power of creative nonviolence, it has the magic and moxie to defeat the failing forces of corporate greed. Occupy has been actively campaigning against Monsanto, and led the Shut-Down Monsanto actions on March 16, 2012, that targeted Monsanto locations worldwide.
Fully Prosecute Corporate Crime—Human beings charged with serious crimes can get plea bargains, but they have to admit their guilt and accept the punishment. Corporations charged with serious crimes get special treatment. They get to bargain for their punishment without admitting guilt. This is how Federal Prosecutors dealt with Monsanto when it was caught bribing giving an Indonesian regulator $50,000 to drop a requirement to conduct an environmental review before authorizing the cultivation of genetically modified crops.
Stop the Privatization & Financialization of Nature—We've seen what the banks and the speculators have done with mortgages. Now companies like Monsanto, Nestle and Cargill are adding patented plants and animals, staple foods, farmland, forests and water to their casinos. Just as they drove millions from their homes, they're now leaving billions without clean water or enough to eat.
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California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.
High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.
Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.
California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.
As reported by AccuWeather:
In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.
For a deeper dive:
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By Monir Ghaedi
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep most of Europe on pause, the EU aims for a breakthrough in its space program. The continent is seeking more than just a self-sufficient space industry competitive with China and the U.S.; the industry must also fit into the European Green Deal.
European satellites continue to provide data on climate change.